By Justin Patrick @calling_allfans on July 11, 2014
The St. Louis Rams finished the 2013 season with a record 7-9, good for last place in the NFC West. They were 5-3 at home, 2-6 on the road, 1-5 in the division and 4-8 in the conference. They had three quality wins, beating the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, but they couldn’t play well enough or with enough consistency to make the playoffs in the NFC. Here are five reasons why they won’t win the NFC West in 2014.
The Rams won the NFC West back in 2003, when they went 12-4, but they haven’t had a record better than 8-8 since. With Kurt Warner at QB the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999. They made it back to the Super Bowl (XXXVI) in 2001 but lost. In 2003 and 2004 the Rams lost in the divisional round of the playoffs, but since then they haven’t really done much and haven't made enough moves this offseason to instill belief that they will be better.
ESPN released a list ranking the toughest schedules in 2014 based on opponents’ winning percentage in 2013. The Rams have the third hardest schedule in 2014, behind only the Raiders and Broncos. Sure two of their first three games are home against the Vikings and Cowboys, with a game at Tampa Bay in Week 2, but their bye week is early (Week 4) and it gets much harder after the bye week.
Last season the Rams' defense ranked 15th in yards per game (345), 19th in passing yards per game (242.1) and 13th in points per game (22.8). While those stats are not terrible, the NFL has become a passing league. That means the Rams' secondary needs to improve. Their front seven is actually pretty good, as evidenced by the Rams ranking 9th in rush defense in 2013, allowing 102.9 yards per game, but their pass defense needs to get better.
The Rams haven’t finished better than 23rd in total passing or 21st in total points scored since 2010, when they selected QB Sam Bradford No. 1 overall. Bradford has also faced some injuries during his time in the NFL. It’s not all Bradford’s fault, though. The Rams have failed to provide him a true down the field target (signing Kenny Britt this offseason may resolve that), and he hasn’t had great protection either.
The Rams play in the toughest division in the NFL—the NFC West. Also in that division are the Seattle Seahawks, who are the defending Super Bowl Champions and finished 2013 ranked first in total defense, the San Francisco 49ers, who have been to three straight NFC title games and finished 2013 ranked third in points allowed per game, and the Arizona Cardinals, who finished 2013 with a 10-6 record and ranked sixth in total defense.
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